The first Rugby World Cup was played in May and June of 1987 in New Zealand and Australia. The final was at Eden Park in Auckland on 20 June. The All Blacks beat France, 29-9. Australia and Wales played for third place in Rotorua on 18 June, and Wales won by a single point, 21-20. A quick run down the names of the All Black World Cup team is a quick trip down memory lane: Gallagher, Kirwan, Stanley, Fox, Kirk, Shelford, Jones, Whetton, Fitzpatrick, and McDowell.
In 1987 I was 14 years old, and I watched with great enthusiasm as we marched relentlessly to the final. I can remember Kirwan’s end to end try, and Michael Jones’ silky athleticism, not yet being bored by Grant Fox, and Captain Kirk breaking off the back of the All Black scrum against France in the final and making a great run only to sort of painfully munt himself against some giant French cover. It was a great way to start an era of great rugby for the All Blacks.
In 1987 I was in the fourth form at Kapiti College, living in a house in Raumati Beach with my mum. I would have been a doughty defender for my Raumati Hearts soccer team (my mother having prudently refused to let me play rugby from the age of five). I won a lot of player-of-the-season trophies for that team mainly because we were hopeless, and always defending, and I was a defender who was very, very stubborn.
If I was fourteen then I was in love with pop music, but not yet playing it. I think I got into guitar lessons in the fifth or sixth form. I certainly would have begun my Smash Hits collection by then, and it is one of my lasting regrets that in a fit of “I am too cool for this” I threw them all out in my early 20s.
Here are the edited highlights of the number ones for 1987:
- Word Up – Cameo
Red codpieces and tight black lycra. Why didn’t that catch on? Word.
- Funky Town – Psuedo Echo
The dude with the synthesiser guitar thingy. I thought that was pretty damn cool at the time.
- Don’t Dream It’s Over – Crowded House
- I have a very specific memory of this song. It is of working in the garden at the back of our house in Raumati with the radio on. It was a beautifully sunny day and I had a blue plastic jug filled with water sitting on the lawn. This song came on the radio and I lay down on the grass and drank it in. I remember feeling the intensity of the grass and its green, and the sky and the jug’s blue, and the way the water moved. It was a feeling of great aliveness and peace.
- Lean on Me – Club Nouveau
This is a decent cover version. It does have some silly 80s sounds in it, but it’s fine. I didn’t buy this record at the time, but found it in a pile of records someone was giving away for free a couple of years ago.
- Living on a Prayer – Bon Jovi
1987 was the year of Bon Jovi. My best mates at the time were Anthony and an American guy called H.D. I remember us walking past the gym at school singing at the top of our voices: “Shot to heart and you’re to blame… you give love a bad name.” We probably also did strangled guitar sounds after that. Man, Bon Jovi were big in 1987. I would have been too cool to love them two years later, so I’m glad they came out in 1987.
I don’t really know why but I LOVED this song. I used to wait all through RTR countdown so I could covertly dance to it in the living room while my mum made tea in the kitchen. I didn’t know for years that (a) it was a cover, (b) it was not the high point of Iggy Pop’s career, (c) Iggy Pop had had a career before this song, and a lot of Iggy fans were probably upset by this song, or (d) that David Bowie was mostly responsible for all of this. I actually own this album which is patchy, but does have some good tracks on it.
- I Wanna Dance With Somebody – Whitney Houston
The big, curly, golden wig (of shame). I have never been a Whitney fan but, as everyone from my generation knows, saying the words of Greatest Love of All as if they were a speech is very funny, “I believe the children are our future”. Maybe it’s a teacher thing.
- Respectable – Mel and Kim
Boobs. Considering I was a 14 year old boy I have pretty vivid memories of Mel (or Kim’s) boobs bouncing up and down under her baggy jersey as they (Mel and Kim, not their boobs) did their silly dancing in an implausible dark alley. This must have been before I found out who Stock, Aitken and Watermen were, and grew to hate them with passionate intensity.
- La Bamba – Los Lobos
I loved this movie. Actually, I wouldn’t mind seeing it again.
- Game of Love – Tex Pistol
A good example of thinking that something is cool, and twenty years later hanging your head in shame. All those massive electronic beats, and synthesised voices. Ugh. (I still secretly sing along though.) The video is extraordinarily un-sexy for a song about the game of love. We are clearly in the era before women were expected to gyrate in bikinis in videos. The young lady in this video is dressed for bad weather.
- Beds Are Burning – Midnight Oil
A seriously good album. Even I could tell at fourteen.
Here we are at the beginning of the pinnacle of U2’s career. I was absolutely in love with U2 for about three years. I bought all of their albums, I bought books about them, and I went to see Rattle and Hum at the Embassy. I believe that people generally didn’t like Rattle and Hum, but I loved both the album and the movie. In fact I found the movie exhilarating. The Embassy has a really good sound system and seeing all those great songs with the music thundering through you was very, very exciting. It was probably one of the reasons that I wanted to start making music myself. It’s a real shame U2 didn’t call it quits after Achtung Baby.
- Faith – George Michael
Post Wham! I don’t think anyone was confident that George would have a career. It was a lot easier to be a girl and like Wham! I had to keep my fandom secret. There was a strong bogan component to Kapiti College (they had little army satchel bags which they had spent hours decorating with AC/DC, Iron Maiden, and ZZ Top logos done in black vivid pen) who would have at the very least sneered at me if they knew I listened to Wham! When he started off with I Want Your Sex it seemed like George might have nothing left but controversy. Thankfully it was just a cynical PR strategy.
Faith was such a good single that I’m sure even a few bogans tapped their foot to it. And George was still pretending to fancy girls at this point so bigots could like him too.
It was quite a trashy year at the movies. The juvenile comedy genre was thriving (Police Academy, Meatballs, Space Balls, and Revenge of the Nerds), as was the crappy horror genre (Evil Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Howling), and crappy tie-ins (Care Bears and G.I. Joe). We were all being dragged through America’s fascination with the Vietnam War (Full Metal Jacket, Hamburger Hill, Good Morning Vietnam, and Gardens of Stone), and big epics were winning the Oscar: The Last Emperor.
There were a bunch of movies released that I didn’t know about until much later (Angel Heart, Wings of Desire, Withnail and I, and Barfly), and then there were the hits of the year: Beverley Hills Cop II, Bagdad Cafe, Fatal Attraction, La Bamba, Living Daylights, Lost Boys, Moonstruck, Princess Bride, Predator, Robocop, Running Man, Roxanne, Teen Wolf Too, Three Men and a Baby, The Untouchables, Wall Street, Who’s that Girl?, and the Witches of Eastwick. Seems like it was a good year for Cher and Michael Douglas.
At the time I think I saw Roxanne, Teen Wolf Too, La Bamba, Princess Bride, Bagdad Cafe and The Last Emperor. Teen Wolf was ridiculous.
Bagdad Cafe featured a cool song and Jack Palance. Of course I had no idea who Jack Palance was at the time (or maybe I knew him from Ripley’s Believe it or Not). My favourite movie was either La Bamba or Princess Bride. La Bamba because it was about rock’n’roll, and Princess Bride because it was so bloody good.
Incidentally, Peter Jackson released Bad Taste, and Bill Cosby proved he was not funny in Leonard Part 6 (which was actually big news in the Cosby Show days). The Simpsons began appearing as a short, badly drawn segment in the Tracey Ullman Show. A show that I always watched and was always disappointed by.
It was the year that I thought stone washed black jeans and a striped grey shirt were what you did when you dressed up, and stone washed black jeans, a basketball T-shirt and white basketball boots was being cool. Let’s not even get into the hair.
All kinds of other things may have happened in 1987 but I was 14 and didn’t much care. I see that in August we had an election with Labour returned to government, but in October we also had a stockmarket crash, and the shine was certainly coming off things as Roger Douglas revealed what wonderful world had in store for us all (Ruth Richardson was taking notes). As I said, I didn’t much notice this. School, pop, movies, TV and day dreaming about girls. 1987.
What was it like for you, the year we last won the Rugby Word Cup?